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With the recent installation of the Climate Clock in New York City, the realization of climate change is hitting people. One way that not only helps our planet but also can help your business is to go paperless.


For most businesses, there is no need for bulky file cabinets, photocopiers, printers, scanners, or storage facilities. You could spend anywhere from a few hundred to almost a thousand dollars annually replacing black and color ink for a single printer. Additionally, sending emails and web-based marketing can save you courier service costs. During meetings, you travel light and can easily assess, search, and share necessary documents with employees, clients, and suppliers. By going paperless, you are reducing costs and can often save time for you, your customers, partners, suppliers, and employees.

Here are some simple tips to help the process:

Scanning documents

Storing document and files in the cloud allows your business to:

  • store and back up important information

  • automate data backups to ensure important documents are never lost

  • share files with employees and customers quickly and easily

  • add security and control measures over who can access certain information

  • access your documents from anywhere across different devices

Different cloud platforms include Dropbox, Google Drive, FileThis, Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, etc. Look into these options and choose the best platform for your business needs. All of these platforms offer free storage, and while scanning documents does take time, you no longer need to buy storage cabinets and other organizers. Industry studies show that it costs companies $2,000/year to maintain each file cabinet and $20 on average to a file a paper document (this includes labor and salary costs, storage, office supplies, and other factors). Gartner Research found that working with paper, they spend 50% of their time looking for information, with approximately 18 minutes to locate each document. Additionally, on average, it costs American companies $120 to find a misfiled paper document. With added control measures and ease, you can also forget the stress related to security and forgetting/misplacing documents. When first going paperless, scanning and uploading documents will take up most of your time; however, once they are uploaded, all other tasks involving the documents becomes easier.

Utilize Google Apps

Google Docs allows for collaboration on documents with team members and clients, while Gmail and chat can be used to communicate online with your employees and clients. Google apps are just like Microsoft Office except multiple users can simultaneously view and edit, and it autosaves, ensuring your work lasts if your computer crashes. Google Apps are also offered for free unlike Microsoft Office, so you can save $70-$100/year. By working solely off devices, you can cut back on any wasteful use of paper, which can save you hundreds of dollars per year as well.

“Email marketing is less expensive, less time-consuming, and more cost-effective”

Use electronic communication

Electronic communication reduces paper waste and costs associated with mailing newsletters, documents, etc. The average small business spends about $338 per month with the Postal Service for postage or somewhat over $4,000 per year! To reduce these costs, methods include:

  • email offers faster communication between you and clients, employees, suppliers, etc.

  • project management systems to track and receive updates on projects

  • messenger platforms- convenient for internal communications. Platforms include Slack, Skype, or text message

  • paperless billing- reduces paper waste

  • electronic calendars- enables small businesses to schedule conference calls, client calls, and meeting without wasting paper.

Electronic communication can also include marketing. Email marketing is less expensive, less time-consuming, and more cost-effective. An article in the Harvard Business Review found that the response rate for direct mail marketing and email marketing was about equal, so digital marketing can be equally as effective with lower costs. You can email newsletters and adopt social media marketing. Social media is ever prevalent in our lives, so updating your social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help promote your business.

Digitize finances

By digitizing your finances, you can hyper-organize documents. During tax season, you can easily find all necessary documents without having to look through a huge stack of paper. This will help ease the process. Additionally, digital receipts never fade and are rarely misplaced. You can also start electronically transferring money because it is not only cheaper and safer than issuing paper checks but also makes it easier to record. With electronic banking, there is no longer a need to buy $100+ worth of checkbooks. FreshBooks is specifically for small business owners and helps you create invoices, track expenses, log hours worked, etc. for free! You reduce your paper usage and can handle your accounting anywhere.

“Hard copies are costly to supply and run the risk of getting lost or damaged”

Make small changes

You can start small. Try to stop printing presentations and using notepads. Notepads can be inefficient for fast-paced work environments. Going paperless could be as easy as using an HDMI cable (costing ~$20) to cast your presentations or sharing your screen for remote participants. Emailing copies to your employees allows them to type any notes on their own time. You can also start signing documents digitally. This will be more efficient than printing them out, signing them, scanning them, and then mailing them back. Hard copies are costly to supply and run the risk of getting lost or damaged. Platforms like Adobe Sign allow you to send clients a link where they can digitally sign documents on any device even with their finger. E-signatures allow you and your clients to review and sign documents anywhere and helps limit physical contact of people.

“Only you know whether it is right for your business”

Going paperless will require time and effort but can offer many benefits. Studies show that businesses can lose ~$14,000 per year per employee in productivity due to paper usage. Only you know whether it is right for your business to go paperless. While it takes some getting used to and transforming your business electronically doesn’t happen overnight, these simple tips and tools can help reduce waste, save time, and help you compete in a modern business world.

Have questions? Want more information about this topic? Contact the HOPE Accounting Firm at 216.744.9303 or at contact@hopeaccountingfirm.com.

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